Julie Elliott MP

Standing up for Sunderland Central

Echo story: Launch of funding campaign

Sunderland’s schools are being pushed “beyond breaking point” by funding problems which means teachers are not being replaced.

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Julie Elliott MP has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond calling for a review how schools are allocated cash in his budget this autumn.

She says while she is fighting for better funding for the schools in her Sunderland Central constituency, fellow North East MPs have told her their schools are also facing the same problems, with difficulties being experienced across the country.

Ms Elliott told the Echo some schools had managed to make ends meet in the short-term thanks to reserves, but were then facing problems when those coffers were empty, and the next generation of teachers were struggling to get a start on their careers, as schools were not recruiting trainees.

The National Funding Formula (NFF) was introduced this year with a view to iron out budget inequalities between schools in different areas but headteachers say it had left them worse off, with some having to cut the staff numbers to balance the books.

Ms Elliott said: “This is not just teachers complaining, this letter paints a stark picture of the finances available to schools in my city.

“Looking at the funding formula at the moment, primary education in Sunderland is very good, but in secondary schools are not performing in they way they should be.

“This will affect everybody in Sunderland in the long-term, because we need to employ people who are educated and skilled as we look to the future.”

She added one city school, which had asked not to be identified, had told her the issues mean they cannot keep up teacher levels.

Ms Elliott added: “The stark reality of the situation we face in the city was brought home to me recently when I met a local headteacher, who told me how teachers are not being replaced due to lack of funding.

“This school is not unique. The Treasury has said it has already stated there will be a spending review which will include the Department for Education (DfE) and that schools across the country are receiving record funding with £41 billion.

A spokesman for the DfE said: “There is more money going into schools than ever before, with the average primary school class receiving £132,000 this year up from around £124,000 a decade ago and £84,000 in 2000.

“However we recognise that we are asking schools to do more which is why the Education Secretary has set out his determination to work with the sector to bear down on cost pressures and help them make the best use of their resources.

“Earlier this month we announced the launch of a new free website for schools to advertise vacancies, which they currently spend up to £75 million a year on.

“Alongside this we are setting up a new register of teacher supply agencies that help schools avoid being charged excessive fees.”

They added that the average primary school class has 27 pupils, while a child taking their GCSEs this year will have seen investment of over £65,000 across their education since the age of three. This is double the funding their parents’ generation would have received.

The department has also stated no parent can be required to make financial contributions to a school and all schools must make clear that any requests for donations are voluntary.

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